Monday in Hawkville: Thomas does his best to upstage Wilson

A recap of the day’s activities at Virginia Mason Athletic Center for Aug. 27:

FOCUS ON

Earl Thomas. All the attention was on rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, and rightfully so. Coach Pete Carroll’s announcement on Sunday night that Wilson will start the regular-season opener against the Cardinals on Sept. 9 will make the third-round draft choice only the third rookie to start an opener for the Seahawks – joining Jim Zorn in 1976 and Rick Mirer in 1993.

But Thomas, the team’s Pro Bowl free safety, offered a couple not-so-subtle reminders during today’s practice that the Seahawks also have a pretty decent defense.

Thomas intercepted a Josh Portis pass that went off wide receiver Ricardo Lockette, added a second pick on a Wilson pass and then made a leaping deflection of a Wilson pass that was intended for wide receiver Ben Obomanu.

Thomas’ lead-by-example efforts were infectious, as cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Phillip Adams also had interceptions; and safeties Jeron Johnson and Winston Guy, cornerback Byron Maxwell, linebacker Mike Morgan and Browner broke up passes.

“We’re just trying to get better every day,” said Thomas, who returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown in Friday night’s preseason victory over the Chiefs in Kansas City. “It’s paying off. We’re having fun out there. And we’re going to be something to be reckoned with.”

ROOKIE WATCH

Robert Turbin. The Seahawks selected the running back from Utah State in the fourth round of the draft to spell leading rusher Marshawn Lynch, but also for those occasions when Lynch can’t play. Like in Friday night’s game, today’s practice and Thursday night’s preseason finale against the Raiders at CenturyLink Field.

Lynch was absent from practice to get treatment on the back problem that prevented him from playing against the Chiefs. So Turbin picked up where he left off in rushing for 93 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs.

“Running backs have to get game tested. You can’t tell until they’re faced with the speed of the game and tackles they have to break and all of that stuff,” coach Pete Carroll said of Turbin. “Robert has done a fantastic job. We have no hesitation playing Robert.

“He played great last week. It was his best game, clearly. In terms of his pass protection, I think he was 100 percent and there were some difficult things he had to deal with. That’s a remarkable plus for a first-year guy. He’s really studied hard. There’s nothing he can’t do. And he looked great on the practice field today.”

IN ’N OUT

Matt Flynn threw early in practice to test the sore right elbow that prevented him from playing against the Chiefs. Carroll said Flynn might be able to play against Raiders.

John Moffitt returned to practice after missing more than two weeks following surgery to remove particles from his left elbow. Rookie J.R. Sweezy continued to work at right guard with the No. 1 line, while Moffitt got his snaps with the second unit.

Also sidelined, in addition to Lynch: wide receiver Doug Baldwin (hamstring), defensive linemen Jason Jones (knee) and Greg Scruggs (hamstring), linebacker Matt McCoy (knee), defensive backs Chris Maragos (shoulder) and Walter Thurmond (leg) and guard James Carpenter (knee).

The club reached the mandatory 75-man roster limit by trading quarterback Tarvaris Jackson to the Bills and releasing cornerback Coye Francies.

BY THE NUMBERS

Don’t look now, but Wilson leads the NFL in preseason passer rating at 119.4. The rookie QB has completed 35 of 52 passes (67.3 percent) for 464 yards with five touchdowns and one interception. He’s also sixth in the league with 150 rushing yards – one less than Turbin.

Wilson also ranks ninth in third-down passer rating (111.3) and 11th in fourth-quarter passer rating (112.8).

Steven Hauschka leads the league with 35 points (eight field goals, 11 PATs) and is second with 10 touchbacks on his kickoffs. Leon Washington is tied for fifth in punt return average (16.0). Scruggs is tied for eighth with 2.5 sacks.

As a team, the Seahawks rank first in rushing offense, and seventh overall; and eighth in rushing defense, 13th overall.  They’re also tied for second in turnover ratio (plus-5).

UP NEXT

The players will practice tomorrow, which will be “Turnover Thursday” in this short week to prepare for the preseason finale. They’ll also have a walkthrough on Wednesday morning.

The roster must be trimmed to 53 players by Friday.

YOU DON’T SAY

“This competition thing is not just speak. It’s real.” – Carroll, while discussing the decision to go with Wilson as the starter over Flynn


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